Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Doll's Eye View: Paris Haute Couture Fall 2017

Literally translated, the word "couture" means dressmaking. Any made-to-order dress or gown is couture, but not all couture is "Haute Couture".....an exceptionally high level of dressmaking. It isn't just about fancy gowns or hefty price tags, this is a completely different type of garment from that which is produced for mass distribution.  And as with other forms of fashion, lifestyles impact what  couturiers produce for their clientele. As women have become more active, Haute Couture has become more simple.

Since its inception in 1865, Haute Couture is the product the super wealthy turns to for wardrobe choices. Couture fabrics are like fine works of art produced in small quantities by private, family owned mills. Master crafters are also employed hand embroider, apply beads or feathers onto the final garment while others produce coordinated shoes, hats and jewelry. But often, the women who could afford clothes costing upwards of $15,000 for a daywear dress to over $250,000 for a hand embroidered evening gown, had plenty of time for tending to their wardrobe and  attending  fittings. But times are a-changing.

Most women in affluent socio-economic communities now hold down full time jobs, or run their own companies. Such fast paced lifestyles means less time for the frivolity of "ladies who lunch." The stigma of wearing off the rack designer wear has dissipated. Most young women have no idea of the work and artistry that goes into a couture gown, nor do they care. Today, it's all about....the look and labels! As a result, there are very few "ambassadors" of the real Haute Couture. So there is no real reason for these clothes to exist. But Paris being Paris...the industry won't let HCdie. Instead, twice yearly,  it invites new designers to present their wares at an event once reserved for a handful of iconic couturiers. Today, designers come from all corners of the globe to celebrate Paris Couture Week. Some, like Italian born, Armani and Giambattista Valli, British duo Ralph & Russo, Lebanese Zuhair Murad, Georges Hobeika, and Elie Saab are now doing Haute Couture better than the French! But many of younger designers invited as guests during couture week, seem not to completely grasp the concept of couture. Much of what we saw was, well...ready to wear. And sadly, this season, many of our favorite labels showed either dreary grey frocks or predictable, almost stereotypical ball gowns. As a result, this season, my girls settled on only a few looks from the Haute Couture Fall/Winter 17 collections.

Star That You Are..
These are simple silhouettes zapped with the twinkle of delicate beadwork. They are dresses that may very well end up on red carpet events this fall! But even with all of the sparkle, my girls found ways to jazz up the looks a bit!


This is a dress made from a tube of stretch, semi-matte black sequins. I removed a bit of embroidery from a piece of vintage, beaded, black lace and tacked it onto the top for the "bra" top. I also added a bit more of this embroidery to the hemline, then added a few iridescent black beads  to the bra and to the hem. The rest of that trim is used as a shawl that Grace chose to toss over her shoulders.


I really don't really understand the Haute Couture connection with this wrap dress. And I doubt the woman who buys this will wear it without underwear. But it was simple to make and, after all, my girls love to shine! Instead of rhinestone studded sheer fabric, I chose a glitter tulle for both Nichelle's dress and shawl. Where the dress crisscrosses over the body, I added rhinestone stickers.

Christian Values
 
This summer, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs pays tribute to the legacy of Christian Dior with a tremendous exhibition. (We will dedicate a post on that exhibition in the near future.) A few couturiers also paid homage, with silhouettes reminiscent of the namesake's signature look: the "trapeze." This classic dress has a fitted bodice with full, flared skirt. This is a very pretty silhouette that lends itself to princess Barbie wear!
There were lots of ou's and ahs over this Grecian dress. Though it looks more summer than winter, my girls loved the softness of this look. The dress starts with a strapless fitted bodice with a drape of sheer fabric attached to a full, gathered skirt.

One Off
 Again, emphasis is on the shoulders, with one-shouldered dresses taking center stage.

We loved Ralph & Russo, finding it to be one of the few collections that had the mark of authentic Haute couture. That baby blue dress caught everybody's eye and is just the kind of challenge I was looking for. But it did make me cry. Making this dress meant getting out the muslin and draping it directly on the doll. And though I made another toile from the original drape, the bad surprise came when I transferred everything to fabric. The top came out better than I expected, but there is a major flaw in the skirt. I cut it on the bias thinking the skirt would fit better. Instead, the edges stretched as I ironed it which is why it is curling around the legs. When I have a bit of time, I'd like to try this again, cutting the skirt on the straight grain!!!

Glamour Girls
Me and the girls love old fashioned, 1930's silver screen fashion. We love the feathers, the fur touches, the glitz and the drama. But if you look closely, beyond the flash and dash of the glamour, you'll see that not everything here is HC.. Still, this was something my girls felt they could work work with.
For an Haute Couture catwalk show, we believe you should go big or go home, especially when it comes to accessories. After all, these are clothes for a queen! While Meagan loves white satin and white fur, she felt the original dress was a bit too.....ready to wear. It could at least have a little beading. In this case, we simply made a bodice using some pearl medallions (found in the wedding department of our favorite fabric store). Her coat is simply a cheap rabbit fur scarf we found last winter..

The original dress has the look Nadja was going for, but she felt Haute Couture, even in a modern context, is more than a leather corset and pleated trousers. We kept the (faux) fur neck muff, the leather corset and matching opera length gloves, but gave her a taffeta wrap skirt instead and added ropes of rhinestones.

Shine On
Silk satin sculpted into a fishtail gown, velvet with shiny edges generously poured over the body in a tent-like silhouette or a super simple evening length shift with gilded edges.....now is the time to shimmer and shine!

But why look good when you can look great! It is, after all Haute Couture. You can start out with something simple, but when you finish, the look should be....grandiose! Stephani looks sensational in her Ralph & Russo but she didn't stop there. She borrowed the crystal polyester coat we did in an early post..."Flaky Pastry."

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16 comments:

  1. Just love your choice of dresses to show and to create. I think if you put Nichelle in a sack she would still look fabulous.

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    1. Thank you, Karen. I did not have lots to choose from, but I did have a good time jazzing up what I liked. Nichelle and Grace are true jewels. The good thing about both of these dolls is that, even if you mess up a dress...they can still wear it as if it were Chanel!!!

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  2. Mój zachwyt nie maleje! Wszystkie przedstawione modele są przepiękne, ale to Twoje "dzieła sztuki" są najpiękniejsze i godne eksponowania! Błękitna, biała i granatowa suknia są cudowne!

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    1. Olla wrote: My delight is not decreasing! All models are beautiful, but your "works of art" are the most beautiful and worthy of display! Blue, white and navy blue dress are wonderful!
      Thank you, Olla, for your very kind words. They are very much appreciated. The three dresses you mentioned are also favorites of mine. I think the beauty of the dolls also plays a significant part in all of these looks!

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  3. I think your Ralph & Russo interpretation is perfect. The bias cut has added movement to the skirt that you might not get if you cut on the straight - unless you use an extremely soft, fluid fabric.

    Great report on the shows as always.

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    1. Thank you Stevi, for your most generous compliment. To be honest, when I first draped the pattern and made the two toiles, the left side was cut on the bias and the right on the straight. But then when I went to cut the fabric, suddenly cutting the two sides differently didn't make sense and I was afraid what would happen along the center back seam. So I cut both on the bias. When I get a moment, I'd like to recut according to my original drape and compare the results. Ah! At least with this one there was a challenge! I just didn't have the time to completely work it out!!!

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  4. Sometimes I think: is maybe in this world the dress or outfit, which you could't create? I think you can everything :O Wooow

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    1. Aya, you are so kind. There are lots of outfits I can't make. But since I'm choosing dresses for our dolls, I am limited to what can actually work in 1/6 scale. Sometimes I don't mention a designer because they are using techniques or fabrics unavailable. For example, Iris van Herpen is a Dutch couturier who literally makes her own 3-D materials. Her work is astonishing, especially since she is using 21st century technology. Sadly, no way to duplicate that. Sometimes too, the materials don't lend themselves to getting a similar look on the doll. Such was the case for an Italian designer, Maurizio Galante who make jackets out of tiny squares of fabric. I figured out how it could be duplicated, It's just no fabric would have yielded similar results. But thank you so much for the lovely complement.

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  5. Gorgeous dresses, the fabrics you have chosen are just perfect!

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    1. Thank you Chris. Whenever I am lucky to find a good fabric store, I try to anticipate my needs in advance. And as you know, it is easy to amass huge amounts of fabric..... So I force myself to use what's in the house when I'm copying a look for the dolls.

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  6. You are fabulous. That is all.

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    1. Thank you, Muff for your kind words. I have a good time with the blog, the clothes and the dolls. The more stuff I make, the better I'm getting. It's fun to see things come together. Thank you for the compliment. It's very much appreciated.

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  7. Wow! Your dolls look fabulous in those outfits! A couple of weeks ago I bought a sewing machine, so I can FINALLY learn to sew. You are an inspiration for sure.

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    1. Thank you so much MC. Great that you can join in on the fun of sewing. One tip----just have fun with it. When you make a mistake, chalk it up as a learning experience and just keep going!

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  8. Hey April!
    I really enjoyed this post and once again admire your beautiful work! Love the taffeta wrap skirt...among others!

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    1. Thnak you, Jano. Glad you enjoyed this post.

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